Navigating Immigration Issues In Advertising Campaigns – Key Takeaways
22 June 2021
Global Advertising Lawyers Alliance (GALA)
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Recently, I was delighted to welcome producers and ad agency
executives to a bitesize breakfast webinar in which we covered the
key immigration issues that have impacted the planning of overseas
campaigns and shoots as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. With a
large proportion of those shoots being US-based, the focus of
discussion was on navigating the ongoing US entry ban by way of
National Interest Exception (NIE) applications, i.e. pre-approval
to enter the US as a business visitor where it is of national
interest to provide vital support to the country’s critical
If you missed out and would like to have a listen in your own
time to the 30-minute session, do get in touch for a
link to the recording and slides.
For now, here’s a roundup of what agencies should be
continuing to think about when planning overseas shoots in the
- Forward thinking is going to be
key. Where projects are generally fast-paced and teams, scripts,
schedules, talent, etc. could all come together in the 2-3 weeks
before an actual shoot window, revisions will need to be made to
this timeline if the intention is to carry out that filming in the
US with a UK-based team. Agencies are recommended to consider
immigration needs early on in that timeline and, realistically,
allowing 7-8 weeks will be necessary to factor in application
assessment, preparation and processing.
- Determine your core team for the
campaign. NIE applications have a high bar for approval so
submitting a request for, e.g. 3 producers on a small to medium
size/budget campaign, will have a higher risk of refusal. Ensure
each role is essential to the shoot and that each person’s
physical presence overseas is critical to the campaign’s
successful completion. Selecting your team ahead of time will also
allow for an assessment of their role and background to (i)
identify any applicable exemptions which could potentially sidestep
the need for an NIE approval and (ii) determine the likelihood of a
successful NIE application before any additional costs eat into
your campaign budget.
- Review the intended activities.
Remember that an NIE approval will allow entry to the US but only
on the basis of limited activities that are aligned with US
business visitor rules. This is unless the traveller holds a valid
US visa allowing them to carry out more ‘hands on’
- Assess the alternatives, e.g. can
the shoot be completed at another time such as after the travel ban
has been withdrawn? Can the shoot take place elsewhere or remotely?
What will be the impact of the campaign not being able to proceed?
In many cases, the answers to these questions will seem obvious,
but considering these points and being able to include persuasive
arguments in an application will strengthen the application and
improve chances of an approval.
If you are need of support or advice for your overseas campaign
planning, please feel free to get in touch.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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